In October 2020, I noticed some weight loss and changes in bowel movements. My GP initially thought it may be a non-cancerous condition called diverticulitis, but the symptoms got worse. I kept having scans until an ultrasound showed non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The diagnosis was a terrible shock. Stepping into the cancer scene was frightening, but the cancer centre staff were wonderful.
I considered briefly not having chemotherapy, as I had heard how awful it was. I’m glad I changed my mind because, while it’s different for everyone, for me it was lifesaving and managed well by the treatment team.
I had a catheter put into my upper chest after my first chemo, as my veins were small and it was difficult to get a cannula in. While it was painful to insert, the catheter turned out to be very useful. I needed a blood transfusion, and this was introduced via the line.
I came to understand that considerable advances have been made in the delivery of chemotherapy and, while it was unpleasant, side effects such as pain and nausea can be controlled through medication.
When I was told that I was in complete remission, I felt incredibly relieved but also a bit wary as I still was very thin and tired.
Having treatment during COVID-19 lockdowns was overwhelming. The restrictions meant I had to undergo blood tests, scans, chemo sessions and consultations with doctors on my own. No visitors were allowed in the hospital. Facing frightening procedures without family support made new experiences even more daunting.
I have to thank the doctors and staff as well as my husband and family for getting me to this stage. I realise how very lucky I have been.
Podcast for people affected by cancer